Bug bites: symptoms and how to get rid

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 25.06.2018

Since bites bites bother people in the 21st century, and what to do with bug bites, few are known, we tried to collect in this article a maximum of useful information.

The variety of bedbugs - arthropod insects of the order Hemiptera - is amazing, but let's start with those that most bother the person.


As statistics show, over the past two decades, the number of cases of infestation of premises with bedbugs has been growing globally, and, in addition to developing countries, the invasion of arthropods has been observed in Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia. In Canada, from 1995 to 2005, a third of the residents of hostels and hotel guests and furnished rooms complained of bites of bed bugs. In the UK, this indicator increased by 24%, and experts from the American National Pest Management Association reported an increase in the number of calls for bed bugs between 2000 and 2005 by 72%.

Causes of the bug bites

The usual domestic bloodsucker, that is hematophagus Cimex lectularius (bed bug), lives mainly in regions with a mild climate. And no matter how you call them bites - bite of a bug bug, bites of domestic bugs or bites of linen bugs - in fact, bites you the same bed bug (which can live in your couch or in a bed for bedding under the same sofa ). Bikers can easily hide anywhere, but for them the main thing is to find a place closer to the sleeping people, since it's hard for them to travel for more than three meters. And to wait for the bright time of the day, insects choose such secluded places, like mattress seams or sofa upholstery, cracks on walls, crevices in wooden furniture, etc.

In addition to Cimex lectularius, which satisfy hunger with human blood, the Cimicinae subfamily includes another type of bed bugs - Cimex hemipterus, living in tropical or warm regions, including Africa, Asia, and southern US states. So that the residents of Florida or Louisiana are bitten by these heat-loving blood-sucking insects-ectoparasites.

By the way, bug bug bites are possible, since these entomologists are referred to the order of Hemimetabolous, that is, they do not undergo a full cycle of metamorphosis: after emergence of eggs, nymph-like larvae resemble an adult insect. They feed themselves and gradually (from one moult to another) reach the adult stage.

Risk factors

So the risk factors of being bitten by a bed bug include night sleep in places with frequent changes of residents (hotels, hostels, trains, camp sites, etc.).

Symptoms of the bug bites

How does a bug bite look like? In most cases, traces of bug bites have the appearance of isolated red papules or nodules on the skin - with a red swollen zone and a dark red center. These traces, in fact, represent the first signs of superficial entomosis, which in the case of bug bites experts call hemipterosis.

The edema from the bug bite is due to the fact that, by biting a person, an insect in the place of puncture of tissues and sucking blood injects the secret of the salivary glands, which reduces the sensitivity of the skin (therefore the bite itself is not felt) and slowing blood clotting. The pathogenesis of skin reddening is related to the fact that local defense (cellular immunity) is responsible for damage to the integrity of the epidermis and the introduction into its surface layer of foreign substances; for the same reason, there are small pustules or blisters from bites of bugs up to 4-5 cm in diameter. When there are several pustules, one can often observe their arrangement by a group or a zigzag line - a whole path of bug bites is formed, and these are the distinctive symptoms of hemipterosis.

The insect prefers to feed on the open parts of the body of a sleeping person, so in most cases bites are found on the face, legs, hands, on the neck and just above the shoulder blades.

In this case, itching bugs can not start immediately: it all depends on the individual sensitivity level. In some people, the reaction to a bite develops within a few days, and some (about 20%) do not feel itch at all.

Similarly bite bugs during pregnancy, as well as a bite of a bed bug in a child of any age.

How many bites are bitten? Usually itchy red stains from bites disappear by themselves within one to two weeks.

Also read -  Bites of bed bugs

Complications and consequences

The bites of bed bugs themselves, as a rule, do not pose a danger to health, as the involvement of these insects in the spread of human pathogens (HIV, Staphylococcus aureus, hepatitis, etc.) has not been identified to date. However, some suggest that bedbugs, like many arthropods, can transferborne the arboviruses from warm-blooded animals to humans.

People whose habitation is chosen by bed bugs often have problems with sleep (due to severe itching of bites). But the main consequences and complications are an allergy to bug bites, especially with increased reactivity of the immune system. Then there may be a rash from bites of bedbugs or urticaria on the background of bug bites.

So, it is possible to develop an entomotic allergic reaction in the form of Quincke's edema on the bite of a bed bug in a child suffering from diathesis, and in adults - in the presence of asthma - with the symptom of  anaphylactic shock requiring urgent medical attention.

In addition, the combing of itching bites can easily get an infection, which causes inflammation of the skin.

And there is the likelihood of anemia: as reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, in 2009, doctors diagnosed an anemia in a 60-year-old patient, caused by blood loss with bug bites.

Diagnostics of the bug bites

Diagnosis begins with the collection of indisputable evidence of involvement in bed bug bites, in particular, a thorough examination of the sleeper.

Detect traces of insects can be in the folds of the mattress and other places where they can hide. For example, you can find the pale yellow shells of the bug larvae (empty exoskeletons), which they periodically discard in the process of molting. Bedbugs also leave small brown "sand grains" of excrement, often collected in the form of spots: it is enough to wipe them with a damp rag, and they will become red-rusty (due to the presence of blood particles). You can also notice small blood smears on the sheets, if a drunk bug was accidentally crushed.

By the way, antibodies with a bug bite in the blood can be detected only in case of the development of an allergic reaction, when hives appear against the background of bug bites.

Differential diagnosis

Differential diagnosis is necessary because bites of bed bugs can be mistaken for bites of fleas, mosquitoes or other blood-sucking insects.

How to distinguish a flea bite from a bug bite? The flea bites are localized, as a rule, on the lower part of the legs - in the area of the ankles.

How to distinguish a mosquito bite from a bug bite? The trace of a mosquito bite appears in the form of a rapidly increasing rounded swelling, in some cases a small dot can be seen in its center. In addition, at the moment of the bite a person can feel a burning sensation. "Shishka" in the place of the mosquito attack quickly turns red, it becomes hard to the touch and very much itch.

How to distinguish scabies from bite bugs? Combs for scabies are more often in the wrists and fingers, in the folds of the elbows and under the knees, on the buttocks and hips, on the face and on the scalp. And the main difference between depriving and biting bugs is that with any kind of lichen it is necessary to desquamation (peeling) the skin.

In addition, bug bites should be differentiated from dermatological diseases such as erythema nodosa; bullous or herpetiform dermatitis; concomitant leukemia acute febrile dermatosis (Sweet syndrome).

Bites of forest and green bugs

The superfamily Pentatomoidea includes - shields or shield bugs - are referred to the suborder of Heteropterans, numbering almost seven thousand species. All of them and even their nymph larvae on the abdomen have glands that release a fetid liquid - the main defense against potential enemies. Why they got the name bug-stinker.

Most species of terrestrial bugs, for example, the harmful bug (Eurygaster integriceps) or gray-gray marble bug (Halyomorpha Halys) are known agricultural pests. So, the marble bug-stinker punctures the seeds and fruits of legumes, fruits, berries and vegetables and sucks their juice with their proboscis. That is, these insects are phytophages. So the bite of a bedbug is theoretically impossible.

Like the bug of the forest bug Pentatoma rufipes (red sham), Elasmucha grisea (gray scutcher) or Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale (deciduous kilevik), because they are all phytophages, and in their diet - only plant food.

Some woody bugs belong to predators, more precisely, to predators: they thrust out their caterpillars with their jaw-styled style, and sucked liquid from them with their proboscis. In the saliva of these bugs there are digestive enzymes, which they release into the body of the victim, which facilitates the extraction of pre-digested contents of the prey. It is clear that a person is not among the potential victims of a hungry forest bug.

Is it possible to bite a green bug? The most widespread in our latitudes is the arboreal green shooter Palomena prasina, which lives in deciduous plantations, the green bedbugs of the species Nezara viridula and Acrosternum hilare - in the gardens, in the fields, in the grass. Both are phytophagous. But the green bug Troilus luridus - a predator, but hunts only on caterpillars and larvae of beetles.

In late autumn, insects look for a warm place for wintering and can creep in or fly into houses and apartments. But whether they can bite people, it is not known.

But the flower bugs Anthocoris nemorum (having a tiny oval body, reflective wings and orange-brown limbs) peacefully sit on flowering plants in parks and gardens, but ... In anticipation of their potential food - aphids and ticks. British entomologists say that this insect can, if necessary, behave aggressively and bite a person: the bite will be scratching for a long time and slowly heal, but for health it is absolutely not dangerous.

The bite of a water bug

Water bugs belong to the suborder Heteroptera, superfamily Nepoidea, family of water meters (Infraorder Nepomorpha), subfamily Dipsocoromorpha. The most common are rod-shaped water cannons (Hydrometridae) and ten species of common water-bed bugs (Gerridae Hemiptera).

They adapted to life on the surface of fresh water and move through it due to the presence on their legs and body of a number of water-repellent villi; food for water meters are smaller insects, accidentally trapped in water. They do not bite a man.

But there is a genus Lethocerus of the family Belostomatidae - the largest waterbugs (up to 12 cm in length) that lives in the rivers and lakes of the Americas, East Asia and northern Australia. Here they are - the most real predators, eating waterworms, snails, crustaceans, fish and frogs. And the bite of a water bug-summercarus is considered one of the most painful among insect bites. But from a medical point of view, it is harmless. Yes, and to bite a person insect is extremely rare: usually he throws off the fetid liquid from his abdominal gland and immediately pretends to be dead.

Bite of a kiss bug

A real bug of life and health is bitten by a kiss of a bug bug - Triatoma infestans triatomic hematopoietic bug (other names are American bug predator, Chagas bug, cone-bearing bug), which predominantly inhabits the countries of South and Central America.

This bug carries unicellular parasites with  trypanosoma  cruzi, which cause dangerous Chagas disease, which leads to disruption of the heart, digestive and nervous system of a person. According to some reports, to date, infected with trypanosomes 16-18 million people around the world.

Researchers note that in the last decade and a half in Vietnam, another subspecies of triatomic bugs - Triatoma rubrofasciata or a large kiss bug inhabiting near human dwellings (in wood, dumps, in coops) has activated. In large cities (Hanoi, Danang, Ho Chi Minh), these bugs at night bite residents of multi-storey buildings.

Who to contact?

Treatment of the bug bites

Typically, the treatment of bites of domestic bugs - it's good hygiene and minimal symptomatic therapy to reduce itching and prevent secondary skin infections.

And on the question - whether it is possible to wash after bites bugs, doctors respond in the affirmative, but advise not to rub the bite site with a washcloth.

How to remove the itch from a bug bite? And than to smear bugs bugs? As an effective remedy for bite bugs, antihistamine ointments are recommended. Psilo-balm and Fenistil gel bug bites - read  Fenistil from allergies

But with severe itching, it is advisable to use antihistamine tablets against bug bites: Suprastin, Tavegil, Loratadin, Zirtek, Treksil.

It helps to remove the itching and accelerate the healing of combs using external means with glucocorticosteroids: Hydrocortisone ointment, Prednisolone, Oxycorta, Acriderma, Flucinara, etc. How to use them and what side effects can be described in detail in the publication -  Hormonal ointments for allergies

Offered in pharmacies antiseptic ointments, gels, creams, sprays can be used to prevent infection at the site of combed bites. It is possible to apply Nizulin cream (with camomile extract), also suitable for extracts of chamomile, string, plantain or D-panthenol baby cream from mosquito bites and bugs.

Treatment of the skin in order to avoid secondary infection can be antiseptic spray Chlorhexidine or Furozol. Containing zinc oxide zincol suspension from bug bites quickly removes wetting inflammation, which often develops with combs of the skin. But with the beginning of suppuration of the combed place, ointments such as Levomecol, Levosin, Streptonitol, Baneoocin, Sulfargin will be the best.

Alternative treatment suggests applying to the bites leaves of medicinal plants (peppermint, plantain, linden), as well as lubricate the bitten place with juice of garlic or onions. The effectiveness of these methods has not been tested by anyone, but a compress with a solution of baking soda actually reduces itching. It is also good to treat bites of alcoholic infusions of calendula, St. John's wort or propolis.


According to entomologists, bedbugs do not distinguish between cleanliness and disorder in the house, however, putting in order can still help reduce the number of shelters for insects. But the real prevention implies the complete destruction of parasites, carried out by specialists-pest control.

It is also necessary to conduct chemical treatment of all bedding, furniture (beds, sofas), carpets. Perhaps from heavily infected things have to get rid of.

Keep in mind that bedbugs die at temperatures above + 50 ° C and below -18 ° C, so they can either be evaporated or freezed.

Conventional repellents, in particular  sprays from bedbugs,  as well as nebulized means for containing ticks and mosquitoes, are most often ineffective. Therefore, attempts to protect themselves from insect bites with their help is not recommended. Sleep with the included light also does not deter hungry bedbugs.


In the majority of cases, the forecast for bites of bed bugs is favorable.

It is important to know!

Our children are delicate creatures with delicate, sensitive skin. It is this moment that attracts various blood-sucking parasites, which especially do not have to strain to experience satiety.

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